The last week may seem like a whirlwind for fans of Cori “Coco” Gauff, the 18-year-old American tennis star who sits currently at No. 13 in the world, according to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings.
Just last week, Gauff contended for her first Grand Slam title, at the 2022 French Open. Gauff battled world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, and lost to the two-time French Open winner, 6-1 and 6-3, in straight sets.
But the excitement continues for the right-hander from Delray Beach, Florida, as Autograph announces the launch of a new series of Coco Gauff NFTs that went on sale June 7.
Co-founded by Tom Brady and headquartered in Los Angeles, NFT platform Autograph was founded to bring the most legendary names in sports, entertainment and culture into digital form. Some of Autograph’s other recent releases include such big names as Derek Jeter, Simone Biles, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, and Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt.
Gauff’s line is part of Autograph’s latest “drops” —consisting of younger athletes such as WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu, PGA Tour golfer Collin Morikawa, NFL quarterback Justin Herbert, and NBA star Devin Booker.
While dropping an NFT may seem like just the “next thing” for any top-flight athlete, Gauff wanted to make sure her Autograph NFT showcased her personality and appreciation to all the people—coaches, family, even fans—who have been with her on her journey.
“I love connecting with my fans, especially my younger fan base,” Gauff told me this week. “I wanted my collection to be as colorful, fun, and truthful to my passions as possible.”
So, for fans of the rising tennis star, there’s something a little extra. Autograph said this week that holders of any Gauff’s NFTs from “The Future is…” collection purchased by June 14 will receive access to a social media Q&A with Gauff herself. Fans will also have the opportunity to dish on Gauff’s on-court style and vote on her outfit for an upcoming tournament this summer.
Yesterday, I connected with Gauff for a short Q&A, in which the two-time singles title winner discussed her meteoric rise in tennis, her training, and why her fans and supporters are so important to her.
Andy Frye: You’ve had an impressive WTA career so far and you’re only 18. How have you grown as a player or changed your game (if at all) during the last two years?
Coco Gauff: I have learned to not look so much at the results and tune out the outside pressures. It has taken a lot of work and I am still growing and learning how to do that, but focusing on the process, trying to relax as much as possible and just have fun has always produced some of my best tennis.
AF: Playing at your level isn’t for the faint of heart. Any secrets or insight on how to focus and overcome tough times on the court?
Gauff: My family. They are my rock. Without them, none of this would be possible so they really keep me grounded. When I am home, I love going to my little brothers’ sporting events and supporting them. I also just really love tennis and when you love something it is easy to stay focused and continue to work toward your dreams even when times get tough.
VIDEO: Coco gets “warm and fuzzy” inside the tennis ball
AF: It seems all the top athletes are doing NFTs now. But yours seems to be more playful and have a different flavor.
How does your personality show up within your NFT line?
Gauff: The team at Autograph really let our group of next-gen athletes express themselves in the collection and worked with us to ensure our personalities shined through in our collections. So, you will see some inspiration taken from anime and superheroes that went into creating the artwork for my NFTs.
AF: You’re a role model for a lot of young people but are also still young. What’s it like to connect with fans in their teens?
Gauff: I always tell them to dream big because it is something I live by. I never thought I would be in my position, and it can really happen to anyone if you are willing to work hard and set goals. It means so much to me when someone tells me that they picked up a tennis racket because of me or that they tried something new because of me.